Press Room

Testimonials

ROSE PRESS

(an outgrowth of

Writing from the Deeper Self) ~

Books & Other Fragrant Offerings to Bring You Home to Yourself

Blog (Deep Writing)

Payment for

Book Development Services

 

Writing from the Deeper Self
Bringing Your Treasures into the World . . .

Naomi Rose

Book Developer

The book of your heart awaits you...

(510) 653-ROSE / (510) 653-7673

naomirosedeepwrite@yahoo.com 

Living Treasures from the Past

 

Sometimes it happens that you read something that few others or even no one else have heard of, and it stays with you for years, forming a kind of internal reference point that anchors your soul through the eras of your life. The name of the book and the author, the plotline and the details of the story may fade—but somewhere inside you, in a secret, quiet place, something of great value that the author knew and confirmed in you still lives. And despite the passage of years and sophistication, all it takes is a brief re-encounter with this mysterious old friend to bring back the old magic of deep knowing.

I don’t often get the chance to share my favorite treasures of this kind with people I haven’t met. And yet these books made such a distinct impression on me when I was young as to mold the sensibility of my being, that I am eager to share them now with you. In these days of rapid-fire assault on the senses through various media, books still have the potential to bring us into states of enchantment, even if their subject matter is a difficult or dark one. And it is this original enchantment that keeps our doors of perception and heart open.

So here follow excerpts from some of the books that became part of my inner world throughout the years. Regrettably, I can take no credit for developing them. But perhaps they helped to develop me, so that the work I do with writers now is subtly informed by all the nourishment these books, as well as others, gave me over the years.

"Descent of Angels": A story by Charles Baxter.

Based on a painting by John La Farge (Snow Field, Morning, Roxbury, 1864)

It is wonderful how sympathetic the use of imagination can make us. I found this very short story in a book on writers and poets who had been invited to write as they were moved to, based on any painting in the collection of the Chicago Art Museum.  Baxter seems to have projected himself into the landscape and found something unexpected there: a human story of a divine visitation, and the awe and loneliness and tenderness in its wake.

Almost every afternoon during the winter of 1870, around two o'clock, the young mother bundled up her baby in his snowsuit and went out to sit on the bench in the backyard.

To read the rest, click here:

Descent of Angels

 


From The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead. Originally published by Simon & Schuster, 1940.

A note from Naomi: This linguistically stunning, intimately told novel was written before the term "dysfunctional family" ever entered the lexicon. And yet its deep insight and compassion, even for the characters who have no insight or compassion, helped me understand the nature and workings of human beings caught in a mesh of a destructive family system more than all the psychology texts I read later on. For even with her great clear sight about the parent-characters’ failings, the author seems to love everyone in her story. And if the individuals in the story could not find their way to redemption, the author’s clarity and love bring us at least to its edge, and to our own.

 

Chapter 3: Sunday a Funday

On Sunday morning the sun bolted up brash and chipper from the salad beds of the Atlantic and with a red complexion came loping towards them over the big fishing hole of the Chesapeake. Before it was light the dooryard thrush began to drop his song, quirt-quirt, hesitant, fretful, inquiring, angelically solitary, from the old elm across the street. Sam whistled to him and then nestlings fluttered, a beast fell to the ground, the early birds got to work, and presently, by hearty creaking and concerted peeping, they and Sam made the sky pale and flagged the daystar. Sam was always anxious for morning. He was greedy for the daylight world, because the fevers of the dark, and the creatures real to man’s sixth, inward, dark sense, which palpitates in such an agony about three o’clock in the morning, all disappeared at the dark’s first fading. When the first ray came, he stood on feet of clay in a world of clay; the dread other worlds of dreams were gone beyond comparison. In these fresh summer mornings (it was fresh on the hill) when the earth perspired profusely, Sam would often get up before daybreak, patter downstairs in bare feet, just wearing bathing pants, and would go out on to the lawn, getting ready for some job, getting the animals up, or standing under the trees, whistling to the birds. But not today, because he had stayed awake most of the night.
It was six-thirty by the alarm clock. Sam began whistling softly through his teeth the tune of,

One evening in the month of May
(Johnny get your gun, get your gun!)—

and waited. There was a grunt next door in the twins’ room. The twins were turning over, trying to dig shuteye out of their pillows, closing their ears. Upstairs, Ernie’s voice joined in,

I met ole Satan by the way.

There was a slippery sound like a little fish flopping on the stairs: that was four-year-old Tommy hurrying down to his mother’s room. Louisa, from her bed across the sitting room, said sleepily, "Shh! Shh! It’s early!"
Sam waited a moment, thinking, Will I whistle up the Gemini or my Darkeyes? Of all these little affections, he was most sure of Evelyn, his pet, a queer little dove, who in her eight years had never been naughty and who bubbled with laughter when he grinned at her, hung her head, cried, when he scowled. He called her his little woman, Little-Womey. He began,
"Little-Womey, Little-Womey, git-up, git-up!"
"Sh, sh!" said Louie in whose room Evie slept. No answer.
"Is you awake, Little-Womey, or is you in the arms of Morpheus?"
No answer: but by almost imperceptible noises Sam could tell that everyone was awake now, listening. There was an exclamation in his wife’s room downstairs. Henrietta had been awake for hours, as long as Sam himself, knitting, reading, waiting for her morning tea.
"Womey, Womey, c’mon, c’mon, giddap for your pore little Sam."
Evelyn giggled. He heard it all right and insisted, "C’mon, Womey: come on: do my head, come, scratch my head. Come, do m’head: d m’yed, do m’yed. Come on, Penthestes; co-ome on, Penthestes."
His voice had fallen to the lowest seductive note of yearning. Evie chuckled with doubt, pleasure. She had many petnames, any, in fact, that occurred to Sam, such as Penthestes (a chickadee) or Troglodytes (the house wren), names of engaging little dusky birds or animals. Saul, the more self-possessed of the twins, shouted to Evelyn, while the other, Little-Sam, who was his father’s copy, shouted out that he was awake. Their mother, in her bed, grumbled again. Sam was enjoying himself and now began to whine,
"Womey won’t come en scratch m’yed: Womey is mean to her pore little dad."
Evie jumped out of the covers and ran across Sam’s sitting room. At his bedroom door she giggled, eyes flying, fat brown starfish hands together on the dark mouth.
"I heard you the first time, Taddy."
"C’mon," he begged, full of love for her. She jumped onto his bed and crouched on his pillow behind his head: there she began to massage his head and twist his thick silky hair.

 


The Last of the Just by Andre Schwartz-Bart. Originally published in English by Bantam/Atheneum House, 1960.

Note: This is one of those books that rocked the world when it appeared, and then just about disappeared. The back of the 1960 paperback edition said, in large block type, "The top bestseller on two continents. A drama that seizes you and will not let you go." "Already published in sixteen languages, The Last of the Just has won world-wide acclaim as a monumental novel." The inside cover is filled with praise, including "A triumphant monument to the nobility and tenacity of the human spirit."


But who has heard of it now?


The title comes from the Jewish belief that in every generation, there are 36 righteous (just) people on the earth, called "the Lamed Vov," whose righteousness cause God to keep humanity going. Not all of these 36 know they are the Lamed-Vov. As this novel itself puts it,

"According to [tradition], the world reposes upon thirty-six Just Men, the Lamed-Vov, indistinguishable from simple mortals; often they are unaware of their station. But if just one of them were lacking, the sufferings of mankind would poison even the souls of the newborn, and humanity would suffocate with a single cry. For the Lamed-Vov are the hearts of the world multiplied, and into them, as into one receptacle, pour all our griefs."

This beautifully written book begins with the prophecy of the Lamed-Vov, and traces one such righteous savior through generations, to a European Jewish child of our time (as Hitler was coming into power) named Ernie. Ernie is ignorant of his legacy for almost half the book, until finally circumstances require that those who know tell him. This changes his life and has repercussions when, a few years later, he is brought, with others, into a concentration camp. One of the astonishing powers of this book is that it evokes in the reader that level of feeling for humanity as to render each of us, at least in the act and the aftermath of reading, closer to the level of the bottomless heart of the Lamed-Vov.

Chapter IV: The Just Man of the Flies

Frau Tuszynski had broken her collarbone when she fell, but the child was intact. Nevertheless Mordecai, slipping an arm under the barely scuffed knees, raised Ernie to shoulder height and set off without a word into the alleyway, indifferent to the prudent advice offered by the faithful lingering in the courtyard. Though he forbade her sharply, Fraulein Blumenthal came stubbornly along behind him, bleak, tiny, mumbling, prey to a vague religious fear.
A bead of sweat trickled down Ernie’s temple. He protested that he could walk by himself. . . .
Meanwhile the patriarch moved silently forward in the sun-whitened streets, and the Germans stopped to watch the passage of that enormous old man bearing a little boy perhaps wounded at the synagogue. They had no trouble, only a few children following them down a street with a refrain to which their limpid voices gave the unexpected grace of a nursery rhyme:

Jews, Jews, matzo eaters,
Tomorrow come the knives,
Next day the stake and fagots
And afterward—hear this well—
You’ll all be sent to Hell.

But with his eyes looking inward at his own dream, already planning the phrases of his "revelation," Mordecai did not hear the thin shouts of the urchins, who finally became tired of his indifference. Only now and then, reminded of the lamb who lay in his flesh-and-blood arms, he lowered a distraught mustache to the curly, dusty, sweaty head of hair. Back at No. 8 Rigenstrasse, he carried the child to his room and undressed him with unaccustomed, awkward gestures. The boy opened terrified eyes and Mordecai repeated hollowly, "Don’t be afraid, my little love, don’t be afraid. . . ." Then the child found himself tucked in bed up to the neck, like an infant. Bolting the door, Mordecai went to the straight chair beside the bed and in a hoarse voice, as if strangled by all the years of silence he had imposed upon it, told the prodigious history of the Levys from beginning to end.
He interrupted himself often, trying to read on the child’s face some sign of intelligent comprehension. Then, adapting his words to the passionate blush of a cheek, to an attentive tongue peeking between baby teeth, to the midnight-blue flash of a half-open eye, he dropped another stop in order to reach and raise, to lift Ernie’s level of understanding toward himself. But at each of his attempts and all through that strange monologue, it seemed to him that nothing more than the memory of a thousand classic legends of the Lamed-Vov was awakened in the child lying between the sheets in the half-shadow thrown through the tulle curtains by the afternoon sun. Only when he observed that the last Just Man of Zemyock had died three years ago without designating a successor (so that the Levy Lamed-Vov were submerged now in the indistinct night of the unknown Lamed-Vov), he thought he saw in the depth of those blue eys a small, disquieting gleam that flickered and vanished immediately.
"And why," he asked unexpectedly, "did you do what you did a while ago in the courtyard at the synagogue?"
The child reddened. "I don’t know, Grandfather. It— It hurt me, so"—and lying back on the pillow he laughed like a mouse, laid two fingers politely against his mouth—"so I sprang upon him! You understand, Grandfather?"
"Don’t laugh. Oh, don’t laugh!" Mordecai murmured desperately, already regretting his foolish confidence, already sensing a shadow of remorse, the feeling of a crime no less invisible than subtle but, like any crime of the soul, irreparable.
The "old elephant" leaned over the bed and kissed the astonished Ernie on the forehead silently and moved toward the door, which he opened slowly as if in guilt. A gentle call made him turn at once: "Tell me, Grandfather!"
Mordecai returned with dragging steps, heavy with lassitude, to the narrow, shadowed bed. "What is it, my soul?"
Ernie first smiled to reassure him, and then an unwonted red enlivened his cheeks. "Tell me, Grandfather," he whispered, barely audible. "What should a Just Man do in this life?"
Immediately prey to a terrible trembling, the patriarch had no idea what to answer. The child’s face slowly became bloodless, pallid in the shadow, but his wide, dark eyes, spangled with points of light, glowed passionately against the dim background of the pillow, in the manner of Jewish eyes long ago, of the ecstatic eyes of Zemyock. Mordecai’s hand fell to the oblong skull and sheltered it in a sheath of flesh. And as his fingers played among the young curls: "The sun, my little love," he murmured hesitantly, "do you ask it to do anything? It rises, it sets—it rejoices your soul."
"But the Just Men?" Ernie insisted.
His insistence softened the patriarch, who sighed, "It’s the same thing. The Just Man rises, the Just Man goes to bed, and all is well." And seeing that Ernie’s eyes remained upon his own, he continued uneasily, "Ernie, my little rabbi, what are you asking me? I don’t know much, and what I do know is nothing, for wisdom has kept its distance from me. Listen, if you are a Just Man a day will come when all by yourself you will begin to . . . glow. Do you understand?"
The child was amazed. "And in the meantime?"
Mordecai suppressed a smile. "In the meantime be a good little boy."

-More to come-

Back to top